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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rice Calls Lavrov but No Breakthrough on Iran

WASHINGTON -- The United States and Russia, struggling to forge a joint strategy on Iran, remain at odds over whether the UN Security Council should take a step toward imposing penalties on Iran by labeling its nuclear activities a threat to world peace, U.S. and European officials say.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke Friday to try to close a crucial difference over the language of a possible Security Council statement on Iran, specifically the statement's reference to Iran's nuclear activities as "a threat to international peace and security," various officials said.

That wording, by implication, would open the door for further Security Council action against Iran.

Rice said Friday that Russian and U.S. officials would work through the weekend to resolve their differences.

The U.S. administration had some hope over the weekend that the Russian-U.S. talks could produce an agreement soon. That contrasted with the mood early last week after a contentious session involving U.S., European, Russian and Chinese envoys at the United Nations.

Iranian news media, meanwhile, are praising Russia and China for trying to block a Security Council action that would impose penalties on Iran, said Abbas Milani, director of Iranian studies at Stanford University.

"It's clear that they are trying to portray this as a victory for Iranian diplomacy, which has gotten Russia and China not to cave in to U.S. pressure," Milani said.